Read this post in Spanish.

Studies on how many disabled people live in Honduras are scarce. Results of a survey by the National Statistics Institute (INE), carried out in September 2002, showed there are 177,516 people with disabilities in the country. Academic studies tell a different story. They estimate that the number of people in Honduras with disabilities is closer to 381,287. These differing reports prevent the government, institutions, and civil society from effectively thinking through how ensure that services are accessible to those with disabilities.

The U.S. Agency for International Development-funded Unidos por la Justicia project is working to improve access to justice for vulnerable populations, including people with disabilities. As part of Honduras’s commitment to modernize its judiciary system, Unidos saw an opportunity to assess how people with disabilities currently access justice and how they might be able to use digital tools to better access the judicial system.

Nationally, Honduras’s mobile penetration levels are average, with about 50 percent of the population owning mobile phones. But how many of those phone owners are disabled? To find out, the project team and DAI’s Center for Digital Acceleration undertook a Frontiers Insights report to obtain a baseline of how the disabled population currently uses digital tools and services in their everyday lives. A sample of 310 people with disabilities in San Pedro Sula, Tela, and La Ceiba were interviewed as part of this study.

More Access than Expected but Little Knowledge of Law

We found that:

  • 85 percent own a mobile phone, 72 percent of which are smartphones. This is high in comparison to the average in Honduras, where the mobile penetration rate is 52.7 percent.
  • Of the people with disabilities who own a smartphone, 85 percent of them own an Android, 14 percent own a basic phone, and 8 percent own an iPhone (some have both).
  • Those people with hearing impairments use smartphones at a higher rate (95 percent) than other groups of people with disabilities. Those with visual impairments also had a high rate of smartphone use (82 percent), followed by the physically disabled (78 percent), psychosocially disabled (73 percent), intellectually disabled (67 percent) and amputees (65 percent).
  • People with intellectual disabilities are the most likely not to own a mobile phone (50 percent), followed by people with multiple disabilities (12 percent).
  • The vast majority of those interviewed do not share their phones. Although we did find that those with lower levels of education are more likely to share their phones at a higher rate than the average across Honduras.
  • The applications that people with disabilities in Honduras use the most are Facebook, WhatsApp and Messenger as well as support applications for their specific disability.
  • The probability of having a mobile phone falls as people reach 50 years of age in all demographic groups.

We also found some important insights on how the disability population in Honduras understands the justice system:

  • Only 35 percent of the people interviewed are aware of the Honduran law for people with disabilities. Awareness ranged depending on the disability the person had. For instance, people with intellectual disabilities were the least aware of the laws that impact them directly, whereas people with physical or visual disabilities are more aware.
  • Only 24 percent of the people interviewed believe that the government and private sector respect them. Those who felt they were most respected are people who are hearing impaired (41 percent) or with an intellectual disability (44 percent).
  • In contrast, people with physical (13 percent), psychosocial (13 percent), and visual (8 percent) disabilities perceived significantly less respect for their disability in all sectors.

The Opportunity

Mobile technologies are widely used by people with disabilities in Honduras, which presents an opportunity to increase their access to services of the justice system. With this baseline of data, better interventions can be designed to meet the disabled community’s needs.

This study would not have been possible without the support of Adam Fivenson and the entire technical and administrative team of the Unidos project.